Director Andy Muschietti and writer Gary Dauberman made some changes to Stephen King's IT novel to deliver IT CHAPTER TWO, with one of these changes being more overt references to a character being gay, a change which King supports. Interestingly, some audiences found this emphasis on the character's sexual orientation was an amplification of the subtext of the book, though King himself claims that those weren't his intentions when writing the novel. Despite those not being his original intentions for the character, King also noted how he appreciated the inclusion of this character development as it mirrored the horrifying hate crime of the film and book's opening.
WARNING: Spoilers below for IT CHAPTER TWO
While IT CHAPTER TWO never explicitly states that Bill Hader's Richie Tozier is gay, multiple scenes heavily imply he's hiding the "secret" of his sexuality, with James Ransone's Eddie Tozier being the subject of those unrequited feelings. Some readers assumed this was Muschietti and Dauberman making the book's subtext more overt, but King confirmed he didn't write Richie as gay, yet referred to this development as "genius."
“No, I never did,” King confessed to Vanity Fair of intentionally implying Richie was gay. "But again, it’s one of those things that’s kind of genius, because it echoes the beginning. It comes full circle."
In the novel and this sequel film, a gay couple is targeted by homophobic residents of Derry, Maine, resulting in the death Adrian Mellon. The attack was inspired by a real-life incident that took place in Maine, with the inclusion of this encounter in the narrative meant to serve as a representation of the evil lurking underneath the town which the Losers' Club thought they had vanquished as children.
One of the final scenes in IT CHAPTER TWO sees Richie returning to a bridge that leads out of Derry, carving his and Eddie's initials back into a piece of wood which he had done years earlier. While Eddie might not have been aware of the extent of Richie's feelings towards him, it confirms that, regardless of all of his insults towards his friend, Richie had a deep fondness for him, allowing the film to end with a more loving outlook, which is refreshing for audiences who just witnessed the immense anger and fear inspired by Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
“At least there’s love involved. Somebody cares for [Eddie,]” the author added. “And that echoes the love that Adrian’s partner has for him. So that was cool.”
IT CHAPTER TWO is in theaters now.
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